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Media Watch 2007

27 January 2007
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author:
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 27 January 2007.
Talat has no right to complain
"TURKEY’S reaction to talk of oil and gas exploration off the south coast of Cyprus is as predictable as it is preposterous… As for the rights of Turkish Cypriots, they would undoubtedly exist if the Turkish Cypriots had remained part of the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus." c

"TURKEY’S reaction to talk of oil and gas exploration off the south coast of Cyprus is as predictable as it is preposterous. Over the past month, Ankara has made angry diplomatic representations to Lebanon, with which Cyprus signed an exclusive economic zone agreement, while now Mehmet Ali Talat is issuing barely veiled threats in response to the announcement of tenders for exploration in the region.

Turkey insists the Turkish Cypriots have a right to any reserves found off the coast of Cyprus and that such agreements should be made in co-operation with other countries in the region. Really? One can hardly imagine Ankara consulting with Cyprus or Greece before entering into a bilateral economic agreement with one of its neighbours. As for the rights of Turkish Cypriots, they would undoubtedly exist if the Turkish Cypriots had remained part of the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus.

It is simply mind-boggling that the Turkish Cypriots should unilaterally declare independence from the Republic – an independence recognised by no one in the world except Turkey – and then expect rights under the very common state that they have so emphatically rejected. As if it isn’t bad enough that part of the island remains under military occupation, the government is expected voluntarily to extend a Green Line into the sea and hand over a proportion of its natural resources to the occupying power.

It’s not even as if Cyprus was planning to drill for oil between the coasts of northern Cyprus and Turkey in what Ankara might claim as ‘TRNC’ territorial waters; no, any possible reserves are far off towards Egypt in the south.

The Turkish Cypriots may feel hard done by having voted ‘yes’ to reunification under the Annan plan so decisively rejected in the south. But the fact is that the Republic of Cyprus remains the only recognised international authority on the island, irrespective of whatever anyone might feel about the government of Tassos Papadopoulos and its responsibility in the current stalemate.

What next? Perhaps we should be consulting the Turkish government about our desire to adopt the euro next year. Perhaps we should be handing over a proportion of our tourism revenues or asking them for their opinion about whether Cypriot banks should be allowed to fall into foreign hands?

Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots cannot have their cake and eat it. Cyprus may not be able to exploit its natural resources to the full because a third of its territory remains under military occupation. But what remains within the control of the island’s legitimate authorities is, as President Papadopoulos quite rightly said last week, none of their business."